Working in the city, enjoying the country

CLEAR LAKE — Matt and Norma Schiller were living in Mason City where Matt worked as an emergency room doctor and Norma as a pediatrician.

“We were interested in a place in the country,” said Matt Schiller.

Matt Schiller grew up on an acreage north of Waterloo at Dunkerton and Norma grew up on a farm near Burt.

“She knows about as much about farming as I do, probably a little more,” said Matt Schiller.

After living in Mason City for six to eight years they bought an acreage north of Clear Lake in 1998. The ten acres had a house, barn, hog house, corn crib, silo, and was in excellent condition.

The barn was one of the reasons they bought the property.

“I was impressed by the barn,” said Matt Schiller. “It was pretty spectacular.”

Everything on the acreage was empty. A previous owner had power washed the barn which was in its original condition. Even the hay mow was clean.

Neighbor Larry Nelson remembers previous owners.

Everett Fankel bought the farm from his father. He farmed, using the barn for pigs, cows and calves, before retiring to Clear Lake in the 1980s.

The next owners were Paul Fynskov and Merlie Severson, who were co-owners. Fynskov was veterinarian whose son Todd farmed the land.

Several renters occupied the acreage over the years.

The farm was then purchased by a religious group headed up by Joseph Hartman. They were the ones who made significant improvements on the property.

The Schiller’s have continued to preserve the barn, putting on steel siding and wrapping the original windows in steel. The barn is used for storage.

Matt Schiller describes himself as semi-retired while Norma continues her work as a pediatrician.

While there are thoughts of selling and moving, the Schillers are not in a hurry because of the memories the acreage holds and it remains a home away from home to their four grown children who no longer live there.

They think of the next owner and hope the farmstead will be in hands that will preserve it.

Matt Schiller resisted his wife’s suggestion to tear down the corn crib calling it a piece of Americana.

The barn is an important part of their farmstead. Matt Schiller likes to think of the past when the barn held livestock and it was a warm refuge for them during the winter.

“An old barn like that is kind of majestic,” he said.


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